* W I N N E R *
2011 Connecticut Book Award
Builder's Apprentice: A Memoir
Huron River Press, 2010
Find this book at
Huron River Press,
Independent Book Store,
Barnes & Noble.
From the book jacket
In 1986, Andy Hoffman quit an
engineering job, declined acceptances for graduate school at Harvard
and Berkeley and accepted a carpenter's job in Nantucket.
Unbeknownst to him, he had entered the world of high-end custom
building. Within two years, he was supervising the
construction of a 29,000 square-foot mansion on a 180-acre estate in
Fairfield County Connecticut.
This is a book about his
personal and professional growth along that journey, from apprentice
to builder through the tutelage of a seasoned and hard-nosed
builder. It describes how uniquely high-end homes are built
for select clients, a glimpse into the lives of the blue-collar
workers, architects, engineers and clients that come together to
make these projects a reality. At its core, this is a
coming-of-age story, a celebration of the pursuit of creative
impulses and a story about defying the "rules" and finding a
personal calling in life.
Why I wrote this book
My goal in writing this book was first,
of course, to describe how uniquely high-end homes are built for
select clients. In that respect, it is a glimpse into the
lives of blue-collar workers as well as architects, engineers and
clients that come together to make these projects a reality.
It allows readers the opportunity to experience the joys and
challenges of building one-of-a-kind homes. But I also wrote
this book as a coming-of-age story, and a celebration of the pursuit
of creative impulses. I wanted to create a story that would
inspire others to pursue their own dreams. Right now, as a
professor, I see young people struggling with a desire to have more
than a career; a desire to have their work be what really makes them
passionate; a desire to have a "calling." They are developing
their "careers"; they are building their resumes; they are taking
jobs that they don't really like, hoping they'll lead to jobs that
they will one day like. And deep down inside, they are
dissatisfied and frustrated. Some even know what they would
really like to do, but are afraid to do it. It is easier to do
what you are "supposed to do" and continue on the path that you set
years before. What a mistake it is that so many of us live
professional lives chosen by a 17 year old. I have counseled
many of my students to follow their passion as I did. This is
a book for people, young or old, about defying the "rules" and
finding a personal direction in life.
Andrew Hoffman is currently the Holcim (US) Professor
of Sustainable Enterprise at the
University of Michigan, with joint appointments in the
Ross School of Business and the
School of Natural Resources & Environment.
He is also the
Director of the
Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise.
His work is in the area of business and environmental issues and has
published 9 books and over 90 articles on the topic. This book
is a departure from his previous work, his first foray into creative
documenting nearly five years he spent in the home construction field in
Nantucket, MA and southwestern CT prior to becoming a professor.
Today, he lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and keeps his carpentry
skills honed by constantly working on his house. His neighbors tease
that he doesn't live in a house, he lives in a project.
For more, please visit his webpage at
Media inquiries may be direct to Shira
Klein at the Huron River Press at
The book rolls off the press
line at Thomson Shore, March 31, 2010.
From left to right: Kevin Spall and Connie Adams (Thomson Shore),
Andy Hoffman, Shira Klein and Steve Klein (Huron River Press).